You’ve probably seen quite a few Kia Soul’s on the roads because this boxy subcompact crossover offers a host of attractive features, including a most affordable price.
In this its third generation, the Soul first debuted in 2009. Since then, it’s been a sales success. And it’s come a long way with a total remake that now (for 2020) includes a huge 10.25-inch touchscreen for a myriad of apps including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Its exterior design has changed somewhat. The new model has more distinct, rounded lines and adds a sporty GT Line, rugged X-Line and Soul EV all electric. Soul is also offered in LX, S, EX and classy EX Designer trim levels.
Soul makes for a nifty second car, commuter car, retiree or empty nester and college kids car. It’s thrifty and very affordable.
Soul’s tall side windows give the interior an airy atmosphere that allows excellent outward visibility. Plus, it adds to a spacious interior.
In fact, a former neighbor owned an earlier model and when they’d go on vacation to the shore, I couldn’t help but notice they managed to fill the cargo area with two sand chairs, several luggage and food bags, even a small charcoal grille.
We tested the X-Line with its aggressive looking grille, black plastic side body cladding, unique wheels and taillight assembly that appears to encircle the entire hatch door. It came with two-tone cloth interior, 7-inch touch screen, comfy seating and safety features such as blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic warning, lane change assist, tire pressure monitoring and more.
Soul’s HVAC controls are not fancy, just three large knobs that don’t require taking eyes off the road to operate. It’s a KISS (Keep It Simple) arrangement, which is still the best.
Back seat space is generous as is leg room, even with the fronts well rearward. And the rears sit a bit higher than the fronts allowing rear seat passengers a good forward view. Head room will please tall folks, but rear doors could open a tad wider for us folks with wide girths.
With the rear seatbacks upright, cargo space is rated at 24.2 cubic feet that measures 24 inches deep, 42 wide and 36 high. Flip them and capacity increases to 61.3 cubic feet for 56 inches of cargo loading depth. There is an optional dual floor offered that at its lowest position, provides for extra cargo space, or, higher for a flat load floor that meets the folded rear seatbacks.
As Kia offers three engine choices (depending on trim) for the Soul, our X-Line came with a 2.0L, inline 4-cylinder that’s rated at 161-hp and 150 lb/ft of torque. With Kia’s Intelligent Variable Transmission and start/stop engine technology, EPA rates the combo at 27 city, 33-highway mpg. From a standing stop, Soul offers a linear application of power with two adults aboard. To liven performance, driver selectable Sport mode adds 1,000 engine rpm’s that changes shift points and tightens things up.
For those desiring more zip, the Soul GT Line offers a 1.6L, turbocharged 4-cylinder rated for 201-hp and 195 lb/ft of torque.
When the Soul EV all-electric arrives at dealers, Kia says is it will have a 243-mile range.
Soul X-Line is shod with Hankook 18-inch tires that made for a pleasurable, albeit slight taut ride. With its short wheelbase, Soul parks easily and exhibits nary any body lean in sharp turns. Despite its size, Soul remains planted. While the engine is somewhat noisy on the outside, it’s surprisingly quiet inside.
Now here’s the impressive news. With a long list of standard features and safety items, the base price of $21,480 increased only slightly after adding Snow White Pearl Paint ($345) and carpeted floor mats ($130). With a delivery of $995, the Soul X-Line bottom-lined at $22,960. Probably one of the few affordable cars on the market today.
For those seeking economy and some utility at a fair price, Soul deserves a serious look. The only way it could get better is if it were offered in AWD.